Summary: In this passage we learn a lot about innovation from the courage of Cornelius, the founder of the first Gentile house church.
How God Uses Innovators
1. Today we hear a lot about innovators who start up their own dot-com businesses. Even though many of these innovators may not enjoy success, they are learning from their efforts. Many innovators are not afraid to fail because they believe in the importance of change. An innovator is a person who does not mind introducing a new way of doing things to others. In this passage we learn a lot about innovation from the courage of Cornelius, the founder of the first Gentile house church. As a Roman centurion he was known to be a man who could control his temper in commanding a hundred sturdy men. By inviting Peter to his own house he risked ridicule from many of his peers, but he seized upon a great opportunity to help other Gentiles from salvation through Christ. The innovative ministries of Cornelius allowed for a huge barrier to broken down between those who worshipped in the Jewish temples and the Gentiles. Think of the consequences if Cornelius would not have innovated the starting of Gentile house fellowships? Millions would have hesitated to walk into a Jewish temple because of the social, cultural and language barriers. Ask the Lord to help you to be an innovator for Jesus Christ.
2. Cornelius’ invitation to Peter allowed the apostle to use the “keys of the kingdom” to open the door of the gospel to the entire Gentile world. There are many people whose gifts are not being utilized until someone innovates a new ministry. Cornelius could have received a nasty letter of rejection from Peter, but he took the chance for the sake of his own people. He obeyed what God had told him to do. Ask the Lord to allow your innovations to catalyze the use of many people’s spiritual gifts.
3. Cornelius was not averse to receiving criticism for seeking guidance from a stranger. Cornelius had never met Peter but he used his connections to communicate to one who knew Jesus Christ. You may not know a lot about a person directly, but through your trusted connections try to find people who demonstrate Christ inspired leadership. Trust the Lord to help you to relate to men of God who can help you advance Christ’s kingdom in your community, family or office. Imitate the faith of the Godly. (Heb. 13:7)
4. Cornelius cared more about truth and eternal values than merely maintaining the status quo. Cornelius was a man of means and enjoyed considerable influence, but he was not content with mediocrity. He wanted to know the truth and experience the best God had for him and his people. Ask the Lord to help you seek truth and the integration of eternal values in all aspects of your life instead of seeking to maintain the status quo.
5. Cornelius trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit to work out his innovation. Unless the Holy Spirit would have intervened in Peter’s heart, the innovation would not have succeeded. Do not think you can innovate without the leading, empowering and timely intervention of the Holy Spirit. The reason why most innovations fail is they are not scripturally based nor are the innovators following the leading of the Spirit of God. Trust the Lord to lead, provide and intervene in every aspect of your innovations.
6. Cornelius’ prayers sparked the whole process of the blessed innovation. Dr. Luke wrote, “An angel appeared to Cornelius saying, ‘your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He will tell you what you must do.” (Acts 10:4-6) Cornelius was deeply conscious that he needed to know more of God than he knew. He was not afraid to ask God for new things and for greater intimacy with the Lord. Do not conclude that you already know enough. Humbly ask the Lord to help you to creatively find ways that you can be and know and do more for Jesus Christ.
7. Cornelius proved the point that God fulfills the desires of those who fear Him – He also hears our cry and saves us. (Psa. 145:19) Have you ever wondered why you are just managing to get by on the minimum? Ask the Lord to help you expand your vision for what the Lord can do in, through and with your faith.